Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year, New Me

Hello to anyone still following this blog...

So I totally forgot I had this blog. I'm not going to try to make excuses, I'm just going to move on from here. I've already been working on some new reviews, which some of you may have seen if you're following me on goodreads, and I'll post those in the next few days. School is starting again for me, so I'm hesitant to commit to anything at the moment. I'm not going to guarantee anything for this blog, because I'm not sure I'll be able to keep it. I'd really like to get back into the swing of things - reading, reviewing, posting content on here. I'll just have to see how things go.

Anyways, I hope everyone had a great holiday!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Of Mice And Men Review


Hello everyone,

Today I have a review for John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, which I gave a 2 out of 5 stars. Unlike most people who read this in high school, I never had that chance, so a few months ago I decided to borrow it from a friend. I went into it without really knowing what it was about, but it was a classic, and since it was only 100 pages, I figured I would give it a shot.


The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength. (via Goodreads.com)

My Review (Spoiler-free)

I didn't really enjoy this book. While it is short, when I was reading it, it felt like it took forever, some parts feeling pointless and drawn out. In all truth, I find it hard to find any point to this book at all. Considering the time period this was published in, I understand that trying to write about mental illness in a novel was something that wasn't really done. However, I don't think John Steinbeck handled it very well.

To me, the book felt pointless. Especially considering the ending of the book, I still don't understand why this story was written. Or maybe I was just disappointed in the ending. It was very predictable and most people could guess what's going to happen within the first thirty pages of the book, if that. I kept reading in the hope that I was wrong, but I wasn't. I was also hoping that perhaps John Steinbeck might leave me with some interesting tidbit or moral dilemma to ponder, since it seemed that was what he was leading up to. Alas, none came. Or perhaps it just went over my head.

I didn't enjoy the writing either. There was nothing particularly wrong with it; John Steinbeck's style just isn't to my personal taste, it seems. It's too slow and I just don't care for his word choices. I find it very bland and factual, with very little emotion to it. I've read The Pearl by him as well, and had the same problems with the writing style, although I definitely preferred Of Mice And Men over The Pearl.

I don't really have too much else to say about it. It wasn't a horrible book. I didn't hate reading it, but neither would I ever read it again nor recommend it to someone else, which is why I gave it a two star rating. Read it if you have to for school, but you're not missing anything special if you don't.

 Goodbye for now,

Emily Noel

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thoughts On Cover Changes

          OR          ?

Hello everyone,

A little while ago, in my Along For The Ride review, I brought up the topic of cover changes. I know everyone has different opinions on this, so I felt like maybe I should just put mine out there.

Personally, I only dislike it when publishers change the cover of books in a series. If it's a standalone novel, and they change it, I'm okay with it. If they change it to an even nicer cover, then I'd probably be happy with it. In this case, even if I didn't like the new cover, most of the time you can still easily find a copy of the old cover.

Halfway through a series of books, however, is not the time to change the covers. Personally, I like my books to be organized and to look nice on my shelf. I keep all of my series together. If I bought the first book in hardback, then I will continue to do so. If I bought the first book in a softcover, then I will continue to do so. It's just the way I like things. Everyone's bookshelf is different.

So when the covers are changed when I've already bought the first half of the series, I am not pleased. Especially if I hate the new covers. Or if they change the size of the book. It doesn't look nice on my shelf, and it bothers me. I probably won't repurchase the books I already have in their new covers, I will just buy the new covers of the new books as they are released, but I won't like it.

Now, if a series (with one set of covers) is completed, and then publishers decide to re-release them with a new cover, I am totally okay with that. For example, the Harry Potter books. They were all published with the same cover theme, and after they had all been released, then they were reprinted with new cover themes. That's fine, because all of the covers match. If I want to, I can buy the old covers, or the new, not a weird mix of both.

Overall, for me, cover changes have often been a bad experience. But if it's done right, it can be a very good thing. Although, if both the covers are beautiful, it's so difficult to choose between them!

What are your thoughts on cover changes? Good? Bad? What cover changes in particular have you loved/hated? Leave me a comment!

Goodbye for now,

Emily Noel

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Da Vinci Code Review


Hello everyone,

I finished The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and, as promised, here's my review! My apologies for the lateness of this review. Last week was pretty crazy, but I'm back now. Anyways, I really enjoyed this book and gave it a 5 out of 5 stars!


The sequel to Angels & Demons, we are reunited with Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon in Paris, France. This time, he has become involved in the investigation into the murder of the Louvre curator, Jacques Saniere. Together with Saniere's granddaughter, Sophie, the investigation leads them into an age-old hunt for the Holy Grail. On their journey, they delve into the rich history of the Knight's Templar and the Priory of Scion, a secret society that has endured for over a thousand years. But the closer they come to the truth, the more dangerous their road becomes.

Review (Spoiler-free)

The Da Vinci Code was everything I expected it to be - interesting, entertaining, and fast-paced. Over the past few days I just couldn't put it down. I can totally understand the hype over this book.
I really enjoyed Dan Brown's writing. It wasn't very emotional, but it was descriptive and had good pacing. It gave just the right amount of detail and information, and the mystery kept me guessing right up until the big reveal. I, for one, love a good conspiracy theory and this one was not a disappointment. I also enjoyed the information about the art and historical places. Although some of it was exaggerated and made up, there was a lot of real-life history lessons in it as well. If you care for art or history, you might really like this book!

As for the characters, they were mostly believable. Our main character, Robert Langdon, is likable and realistic, although it is slightly convenient that he just happens to know exactly the information they need all the time. Other than that, though, I had no problems with his character, or Sophie's. She was a good character as well, and I liked that the book didn't centre around a romance between the two of them. I'm not saying the attraction wasn't there, but it was very subtle and didn't distract from the story itself, which was a plus.

Some people have problems with the book because they find it to be too 'anti-Catholic'. However, I didn't feel that way at all. The thing you have to remember is that it is a work of fiction. It was written purely as a work of fiction, not a history textbook. Either way, I thought Dan Brown did quite a classy job with it. I didn't find it 'anti-Catholic' at all. He gave the facts (mixed with fiction, mind you) in a very informative sort of way,  but never took it too far.

Overall, I thought it was a very good book, and I will be continuing to read Dan Brown's books. If you like conspiracy theories, symbolism, or art history, then you might find this an interesting read. Or, if you like mysteries / adventures, and you want to try something a little bit different, give this a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Compared To The Movie

I've seen the movie quite a few times, but it had been a few years since I saw it last, so while I knew a lot of the main plot points, I didn't remember all the details. In my opinion, the book was much better. They changed some things for the movie, and took out quite a bit of their adventure, the symbology and the historical information.  The book explains things in much more detail than in the movie, obviously because they have to cut things down due to time constraints in a movie. But personally, one of my favourite things about the book was the art history and the details about the places they went to, so I would definitely recommend reading the book to get that. In this case, the book is better.

Favourite Quote

"History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe."

Goodbye for now,
Emily Noel

Monday, 3 June 2013

What I'll Be Reading In June

Hello everyone,

It's the start of a new month! We're halfway through the year already - can you believe it? It's been almost a month since I started this blog. Crazy, right?

Well, today I was out shopping and spotted Dan Brown's new book, Inferno, on sale for a pretty good price for a hardcover, and I had to pick it up! I read the first book in his Robert Langdon series, Angels and Demons, probably more than four or five years ago, but I also saw the movie and I remember pretty well what happens, so I won't be rereading it. But, before I get into Inferno, I decided to finally get around to reading The Da Vinci Code!

I've seen the movie two or three times, but never was able to read it. Then, a few months ago, I found a copy of The Da Vinci Code at a local used bookstore and had to pick it up, but I never got around to reading it. Now, I've finally started it! I'm about 100 pages in, and I'm liking it so far! It's making me remember why I liked Dan Brown so much when I was reading Angels & Demons...

Once I'm finished reading The Da Vinci Code, I'm going to try to get my hands on a copy of The Lost Symbol (also by Dan Brown) and read that. However, I don't know if I'm going to be able to. If not, I'll just jump right in to reading Inferno. I really don't feel that his books need to be read in order, so I don't mind skipping The Lost Symbol.

If everything works out, hopefully I'll have reviews for The Da Vinci Code and Inferno up sometime this month, so you all can look forward to that! I'm not sure what I'll be reading after I finish those. I have all my exams this month, so I'm not sure how much reading I'll actually get done. We'll see what happens.

What are you all reading this month? Did you read any really amazing books in May? Let me know down in the comments!:)

Goodbye for now,
Emily Noel

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Sign Of Four - A Sherlock Holmes Review

                         The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2)

Hello everyone,

This week I managed to finally finish one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels, The Sign Of Four . It is the second Sherlock Holmes novel, preceded by A Study In Scarlet. I have also read ASIS, but I won't be reviewing it since it's been so long since I've read it. As for The Sign of Four, it took me a long time to read, but that was mostly because I got to reading other things and forgot I was reading it.... but I had extra time this week and finished it!

In The Sign Of Four, we find that our detective, Sherlock Holmes, has turned to a seven-percent solution of cocaine in order to deal with his boredom, to Watson's dismay. However, just as Watson is about to take matters into his own hands, a new case appears for the consulting detective. When young Miss Mary Morstan appears at their door with the mystery of her father's death, Sherlock is intrigued. He agrees to take the case, and the detective and his companion begin their adventure.

Review (spoiler-free)

I'm going to give The Sign of Four a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I've always been a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, but before beginning the books, my obsession was limited to the Robert Downey Jr movies, and the TV shows Sherlock, and Elementary. Reading the books is, obviously, an entirely different medium, yet it is one I greatly enjoyed.

The writing itself was surprisingly easy to read. Since it was written quite some time ago (about 120 years ago), and my knowledge of old books is greatly limited to the works of Shakespeare, I went into it expecting something very different. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the writing to be very modern! My edition was 113 pages, so it didn't take me very long to read it. But I would suggest having a dictionary or thesaurus handy, because it does have a lot of large, unusual words (for me, anyway)!

As for the characters, I enjoyed both Sherlock and Watson equally. Sherlock's character is interesting and fun to read, since he's so unusual. His deductions are extraordinary and I have no idea how he figures out all the things he does. He is calm and patient, always explaining himself to Watson, but you can tell he often knows more than he's telling. I'm always curious to see what he's going to do or come up with next!

As for Watson, he's a little less eccentric, but no less likable. He's often the voice of reason for Sherlock, and he's a bit more easy to relate to. I feel like Watson is often portraying what the readers are feeling - confusion and awe at Sherlock's abilities.

Plot-wise, the mystery was alright. It was interesting, and I wasn't able to guess the ending, which is always good. However, it wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped. In this book, I definitely only continued reading it in order to see what Sherlock and Watson would get up to next, not to find out the conclusion to the mystery. There's a bit too much detail on unnecessary things, in my opinion. This was the main reason I went with 4 stars rather than 5 stars, because the mystery could have been better.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and I'm definitely going to continue reading the Sherlock Holmes series. It's easy to see why it's such a classic and iconic story, as Arthur Conan Doyle is truly a genius. I will never understand how he managed to think up all these mysteries, and all the little deductions that Sherlock makes. If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, be it the TV shows or movies or any of the other stories, I would definitely recommend this book. Even if you don't know much about Sherlock Holmes, I would still suggest giving it a try!

Goodbye for now,
Emily Noel

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Along For The Ride Review


Hello everyone,

Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen. It is my fourth book by this author, and like the others, I enjoyed it. On Goodreads I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars, however, it felt more like a 3 and a half stars to me.


It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend. (Goodreads.com)

There's something about Sarah Dessen's books that are just so appealing, and Along For The Ride was no exception. Like a lot of her books, there's plenty of your typical, fluffy teenager stuff - falling in love, doing crazy things with your friends, etc. But as always, there's a more serious side to her novels, and in Along For The Ride it's Auden's parents' divorce, which she never really got over.

The book itself was 399 pages, which I read through pretty quickly, but it was a bit boring at times. For the most part, though, it was a quick, easy read. I really liked Auden's character and could relate to her quite well. To be honest, a lot of the time, I thought I was reading about myself! The character development she goes through in this book is quite phenomenal as well. In the beginning, Auden is very naive and antisocial, but by the end of the book her character has blossomed. She becomes more open, girly, confident in herself, and willing to stand up to others.

The other characters were interesting as well. Heidi's character was very likable and well-written. Sarah Dessen makes you feel sympathetic towards her, but she has also written a character who is very capable, can take care of herself, and full of compassion. Maggie's character was enjoyable as well, and as Auden grew to like her, so did I. Auden's parents are a bit more difficult. Her mother's superiority was mildly irritating at the best of times, and I was often waiting for Auden to stand up for herself, which she didn't really do. Her father is lazy, selfish and manipulating, probably my most disliked character in the book. However, both of them were redeemed slightly in the end. Heidi was still my favourite, and the only one who ever showed any true affection towards Auden.

I had a few little issues with the book, which is why I'm stuck on a 3 and a half star rating. The first being that one of the main plot points in the beginning of the book is Auden's insomnia, but it really didn't genuine to me. Insomnia is when a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep on a regular basis. However, Auden states that she used to purposefully keep herself awake in order to keep her parents from fighting. She's also always drinking coffee, often two or three of them late at night. She just didn't seem like an insomniac. She just seemed like some one who drank a lot of caffeine, was used to staying up and sleeping in late.

We are also never given a reason as to why Eli can't sleep. I'm going to assume it has something to do with Abe and / or nightmares, but it was never really clarified. In fact, we never really learn that much about Eli. He always seems to show up at the most convenient times. For a character that's supposed to be the main love interest, he really isn't in the book that much. Or maybe I just want more of him? :P Also, he seems to get over Abe's death without an explanation. I'm assuming that Auden is helping him heal, but it's like one day he's depressed and then the next, he's fine and competing at bike competitions again. Convenient.

As for the writing itself, it was typical Sarah Dessen. It's easy to read and understand, with a lot of relatable quotes and witty lines. It balances itself out with the perfect combination of humour and seriousness. However, in this book, I found that we were too often stuck off in Auden's own little world. Time would pass, things would happen, and then we would only be told about them as an afterthought. Too many plot points seemed to have just been thrown in haphazardly, and I found myself wondering when something had happened and wishing I had gotten more details in the scenes.

Overall, however, the book was enjoyable and entertaining. As a fan of Sarah Dessen, I don't think it was her best work, but I would still recommend it. Her books are always a good way to pass the time, and I will definitely continue to read more of them, so look forward to more reviews on her novels!

On a different note, I know some people were bothered by the cover changes of all of Sarah Dessen's books. Comment down below your thoughts! I bought the new cover of Along For The Ride because it was on sale, but I have two of her other books with the older covers. It doesn't bother me too much, because the covers are still similar looking. But what do you guys think? Which cover of Along For The Ride do you prefer?

Favourite Quotes

“You couldn't just pick and choose at will when someone depended on you, or loved you. It wasn't like a light switch, easy to turn on or off. If you were in, you were in. Out, you were out.”

“Who says there has to be a point?" He asked. "Or a reason. Maybe it's just something you have to do."

And while they were proud of me, my accomplishments never seemed to get me what I really wanted. I was such a smart kid, I should have figured out that the only way to get my parent's attention was to disappoint them or fail. But by the time I finally realized that, succeeding was already a habit too ingrained to break.

Goodbye for now,
Emily Noel